Homecoming arrives for ex-Saprissa man Saborío

RSL striker a focal point as Champions League showdown looms

Saborio celebrates RSL's CCL win

Photo Credit: 
MEXSPORT

LEHI, Utah – Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio will play against his former club Saprissa for the first time in Costa Rica on Tuesday night, but you’d hardly know he’s facing a tricky set of emotions.

“It’s going to be a nice opportunity for us,” Saborío told MLSsoccer.com before the team left for Central America on Sunday, “and it’s going to be a weird opportunity for me, because I played so many years there and have lots of friends there.”

The typically stoic Saborío leads RSL into the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa for the finale of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series (Tuesday, 10 pm ET, Fox Soccer) after he suited up for El Monstruo Morado from 2001-06.

Still very much involved in Costa Rican soccer, Saborío recently spent time with his friends and countrymen when Costa Rica hosted China at the opener of the new Estadio Nacional. Three of his friends currently play for Saprissa, but that was forgotten, especially after Saborío scored the first goal in the new building.

“It was pretty special for me,” Saborío admitted about scoring the inaugural goal, “but the point is we continue to make progress.”

Because of his duties with Los Ticos, Saborío has spent more time in the last 10 days with three of his Saprissa opponents (Óscar Duarte, David Guzmán and Josué Martínez) than with his own RSL teammates. However, Saborío maintains that they were able to avoid the potential awkwardness of the situation.

“No, we don’t talk at all about the game,” he insisted. “We were focused on the national team.”

Head coach Jason Kreis has few concerns that Saborío will be ready for his return to Costa Rica, especially after scoring in the opening leg of the series at Rio Tinto Stadium.

“In the first leg I was a little nervous about what the game would look like for him,” Kreis said. “But postmatch, I think it was Álvaro’s best game for us this year, and so I don’t think that the return there will be any different.”